Teachers… Let’s pass on this One..

After reading the article Dr. Oz Faces Backlash After Saying Schools Could Reopen, it made me realize I didn’t want to be at the front of the line of the human experiment that was being discussed, nor did I have any colleagues that I wanted to offer up on the alter of capitalism. Dr. Oz, a guest on Sean Hannity on Fox news celebrity talk show host who has advised President Trump, suggested that reopening schools sooner than later was, and I quote, “An appetizing opportunity.” He claims that doing so would provide students a safe place to be educated, fed.”

I immediately thought of the school buses in my district delivering breakfast and lunch each day to our students. I remembered the extensive planning the nutrition department allocates to maintain safe standards during executing this feat. I see the smiles that the workers and students share at the bus stop and deliver the bags of food. Students receive food and are being fed. Teachers and community members are rising to meet the needs of our town with nonprofits creating drive by pick-up areas for boxes of groceries. Friday food deliveries are taking place for families in most need. On Facebook numerous posts state, “If someone you know needs food or supplies, have them inbox me.” Instacart and Amazon are making deliveries for families who are in difficult situations and need the gift of food. Teachers check in on their “kids” and speak to families about needs. The phrase, “together we are stronger,” is being played out in our community. That is not what Dr. Oz was noting.

Online education and distance learning is hobbling and crippling, yet grasping and holding on to each other to offer lessons wrapped in love and hope. New technological platforms are being developed and teachers across America are being the superheroes they are by offering all day learning venues for educational stability. Dalton Public Schools, my district, had spirit week last week and students saw their teacher’s pets, pajamas and welcoming smiles while completing their lessons. Dr. Oz wasn’t informing Sean Hannity of the magic taking place behind the screens, just of the appetizing opportunity of students returning to school, yet being in harm’s way.

Finally, Dr. Oz speaks of the “trade-off some folks would consider.” His theory stems from The Lancet, a medical journal, that says studies had shown school closures alone “would prevent only 2 to 4 percent of deaths from the coronavirus.” Basically, he is saying that 2-4% of deaths would be acceptable. Returning to school too early would cause fatalities, and most likely impact the staff welcoming their students with open arms. I don’t want to sign up for that, nor do I know any of my colleagues that I want to shove to the front of the line and be the “trade-off” Dr. Oz suggested. Sure, I miss my students, but I don’t want to sit in class and speak of the funeral of one of their teachers. How scarring with that be? Not only the school staff, but also of their high health risk peers.

After some similar responses across the nation, Dr. Oz backtracked on Twitter this past Thursday. He said, “I’ve realized my comments on risks around schools have confused and upset people, which was never my intention, I misspoke.” Dr. Oz added, “We know that for many kids school is a place of security, nutrition and learning that is missing right now.” He said he would continue looking for solutions to “beat this virus.”

While I am thankful that he understands that schools are truly safe harbors for our students, he should also understand that teachers are their guiding lights and lifeguards. To implement this return without safeguards would take “us” out and create another panic within the educational world. Teachers would likely retire in droves and schools would face shortages on top of calming their frightened experimental staff.

The article states that another famous Dr., Dr. Phil McGraw appeared on the show “The Ingraham Angle” and was confused as to why the country is shut down over Covid-19 when there contagious illness, deaths from automobile accidents, cigarettes, drowning, and so many other ways to die. So why even endure social distancing? His take is that our country will suffer more if we do not return to normal. Again, I offer you a normal that involves your families, friends and teachers dying suddenly – within days – from an invisible killer. We all know it doesn’t add up, as did most people who heard the doctor’s words. That is why on Friday Dr. Phil stated on his Youtube show, that he wants people to “100 percent follow the guidelines.”

Finally, we see that America’s doctor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease expert, has said that the drug Hydroxycholorquine, a now familiar term to most Americans, is not the miracle drug to combat this virus. While anecdotal evidence may suggest it is helpful, he and other public health officials have urged caution with easing social distancing, which they call one of the most effective ways to combat the spread of the virus. They warn that, if the measures are relaxed too soon, it could risk another wave of illness and death.

While yes, all true teachers are heartbroken at missing face-to-face classroom time with their students, the trade off, or as Dr. Oz states, “Appetizing Opportunity”, (comparative to 2-4 poison Skittles in a dish of 100), is one we teachers are smart enough to say, “no thank you” to, and wait for science and further testing. For now, we will welcome our beautiful students on a screen, which is now, the safest place to educate.

Paige Watts
About Paige Watts

Paige is a teacher and Director of the Translation Academy at Dalton Public Schools. Paige has taught various grade levels for more than 21 years.

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